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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Asylum is a horror novel in which archaic, violent psychiatric treatments of the mid-20th century come to terrifying life in story, illustrations, and old photographs from mental institutions. Also, someone is committing visually grotesque murders just like those of a serial killer once confined at the institution that now serves as a dorm. There's a tender budding romance between two characters, and a gay teen is traumatized by his parents' rejection. There's also a lot of profanity, mostly "s--t," "ass," and variations. In keeping with the horror genre, characters are quite heedless of Keep Out signs and other things that would serve as warnings to the wise.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Geeky 16-year-old Dan Crawford is thrilled to be attending an elite college prep summer program in New Hampshire, where he hopes to make some real friends and soon connects with Abby and Jordan. Things start to get weird fast when the teens are housed in an old building that used to be an ASYLUM for the insane -- with which each of them turns out to have some connection. Before long they are exploring forbidden portions of the building and discovering the horrors of the past; meanwhile, strange happenings on campus lead to killings that bear the signature of a serial killer who was once a patient there.
Is it any good?
As an exposé of ghastly conditions for anyone with the misfortune to land in the "mental health" facilities of decades past, Asylum is dramatically effective. Personal tales are revealed in both the text and illustrations -- chiefly old photographs from such institutions that suggest torture far more than medical treatment. But as a story, the novel is less successful, though some of its many disconnects and unexplained events may be resolved in the planned sequel. Things happen and revelations occur at a relentless pace, often with little internal logic other than a barrage of scariness; the cartoonishness of the characters and the horror genre (author Roux turns to teen fiction from two previous zombie novels) sits uneasily with the vivid, real horrors inflicted on real people that are central to the plot.
Talk to your kids about ...
Why do you think horror novels are so popular? Is it fun to be scared?
What do you know about psychiatric treatment today, especially for kids and teens? Do you know any families who sent their kid away to a treatment facility? How did it turn out?
Dan has a lot of baggage from years in the foster-care system. Do you know any foster kids? What issues are they dealing with? How did they end up in the system?
- Author: Madeleine Roux
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, High School, History, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
- Publication date: August 20, 2013
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 17
- Number of pages: 320
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.